Students Staff
University of Essex

March 30, 2020

Research Information for Staff and Postgraduate Research Students

Professor Christine Raines, our PVC Research, offers guidance and support for our research staff and students, during this challenging time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is posing significant challenges for our research and researchers and to provide support we have put together information, links and contacts where you can obtain further guidance. If you have any concerns or questions not addressed below please contact your Head of Department.

Research grants

Research funding bodies are in the process of issuing guidance to universities and grant holders about delays and changes resulting from Covid-19. The general trend is an indication that no-cost extensions should be available. If you think that your funded research will be delayed and need to contact the funder then please copy post-award into the correspondence. The best way to approach this is to propose a solution (e.g. request for a no cost extension). This will be of highest priority for grants that are due to finish soon. The ongoing situation regarding coronavirus is affecting the research community and will continue to evolve and increase over time. Please check the latest guidance from research funders for applicants (British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – please also see their Q&A on the impact of COVID-19 on NIHR funded and supported research, Royal Society, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Wellcome Trust).

If you have questions about your current funding please contact Sue Hanshaw in the REO.

For our internal GCRF QR funded projects, no extension is available currently.  Beate Knight in the Research Development team will be in touch with PI’s to discuss options.

Postgraduate Research Students

As part of our commitment to create enabling environments for postgraduate research and education, we have made arrangements for remote supervision and a series of support mechanisms and processes that mitigate against research interruption as much as possible and enable flexibility in the progression of research goals.

Our regulations and practices have been updated enabling supervisory panels via video link, research away from campus, electronic thesis submission, and vivas held via video link and setting up of PGR Covid-19 FAQs. All available on our corona virus webpage.

Resources to support postgraduate research activities off site include off-campus access to necessary software and databases (STATA, Bloomberg and others), loanable laptops for PGRs, and subject librarians are available to continue to provide live advice. Our aim is to enable PGRs research to progress, but we also understand that there may be situations (e.g., lab-based research, practice-as-research, or research placements) where uninterrupted progress is impossible. In such instances we will work with colleagues to reconsider research schedules and extended deadlines for their supervisees. UKRI has issued a statement in support of one such approach to doctoral study, highlighting that no penalties will be applied to Research Organisations as a result of COVID-19 extensions, and some doctoral training partnerships have confirmed funding for the periods of extension. More information on this is available on the UKRI website.

Access to research facilities

Following the announcement on Monday 23 March by the Prime Minister, the University has now moved to ‘Advanced Protection’ Phase in response to the COVID-19 challenge. It is with a heavy heart that we took the decision to restrict access to research laboratories and facilities in order to protect the safety of staff. Access will only be allowed for essential activities (eg. to protect the viability of equipment and or materials), restricted to appropriately trained, individual members of staff, authorised by the Head of Department. No new experimental work should be initiated unless it is COVID-19 related and has been given consent by me. I understand that this will be a difficult time and if you have any concerns about the consequences of these changes to access for your research please contact your Head of Department.

Advice on preparing research grants during the pandemic.

Throughout this period of uncertainty, the REO remains open, with teams working remotely and the normal support for preparing and submitting grant applications is available.  Funding calls are still active at this stage. Research ethics review and monitoring processes will continue remotely via the ERAMs and zoom for sub-committee meetings. The enterprise team are continuing links with external partners remotely. Innovate UK have approved use of video conferencing for regular KTP meetings in place of face to face.

REF2021 COVID-19 Contingency Planning

The submission deadline for REF2021 has been postponed and will no longer take place on 27 November 2020, a new submission deadline will be announced no later than eight months prior to the deadline. The REF staff census date (31 July 2020) remains unchanged. We will advise staff of any further changes to REF2021 as soon as information becomes available.

The full announcement is available on the REF website.

Professor Christine Raines

PVC Research

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *